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Portugal steps up its efforts to increase the usage of renewable energy

Portugal is doing its part to invest in renewable energy with the dedication of a new 11-megawatt (MW) solar plant. The plant, which is located in Serpa, is one of the largest solar arrays in the world and can supply enough electricity for 8,000 households.

The solar plant was built by Catavento, a Portuguese renewable energy company and California based PowerLight Corporation, a GE Energy Financial Services subsidiary. It occupies roughly 150 acres in Portugal's Alentejo region and contains over 52,000 photovoltaic modules manufactured by Sanyo, Sharp, SunPower and Suntech. The solar plant is also said to reduce CO2 emissions by 13,000 tons per year.

"This project is successful because Portugal's sunshine is plentiful, the solar power technology is proven, government policies are supportive, and we are investing and delivering under GE's ecomagination initiative to help our customers meet their environmental challenges," said Kevin Walsh of GE Energy Financial Services. "Thanks to great Portuguese sunshine and high technology, this plant right here in Serpa is expected to produce the most power -- more than 20 gigawatt-hours per year."

"The Serpa solar power plant speaks to the green power initiatives now setting Europe on a course toward ambitious emissions reductions goals. By assembling a first-class team of companies in the solar arena, we've achieved a remarkable renewable energy milestone," remarked PowerLight CEO Tom Dinwoodie.

As reported last month by DailyTech, the European Union (EU) is aiming to receive 20% of its power from renewable energy sources by 2020. Currently, the EU receives 6.5% of its power from renewable energy.

Portugal wants to significantly improve on those figures before the 2020 deadline. Portugal's Prime Minister, Jose Socrates, has proclaimed that his country will receive 45% of its power from renewable sources within 3 years.

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By nah on 4/2/2007 8:27:57 AM , Rating: 2
20 GWh= 20 million KWhrs on 150 acres=0.607 Km2 of land. Now total world prodn of electricity is around 16000 billion KWh or 16 million GWh. It would require around 485600 km2 of land. Multiply that by a factor of 3/4 and you have total world energy consumption in 2007 in around 2-2.5 million km2 of land. More interesting than growing crops and burning them. Add wind power and you can give everyone on this planet the energy consumed by an average American--i.e. around 7819 kg of oil equivalent, or 7819 * 41 MJ

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: land
By nah on 4/2/2007 9:41:11 AM , Rating: 2
I meant multiply by 3 or 4--the 3/4 was a typo--checking on what you have said--your points are basically OK but i see no reason why we can't blanket 2/3 million km2 --total land area of the world is currently at 135 million km2--there are enough deserts and semi inhabited places to pull this of--and in anyway, what options do we have--wind+ solar to produce electricity for homes/factories/offices and hydrogen for cars/airplanes/dirigibles for transportation energy--gas/oil will run out by 2050/2075 tops. Coal maybe by 2200. Nuclear--simply too dangerous, hydro-capacity keeps diminishing over time due to river siltation

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 9:53:43 AM , Rating: 4
> "and in anyway, what options do we have..."

Nuclear power, of course. Its far safer than any other form of power generation. Cumulatively, western nuclear reactors have racked up over 10,000 reactor-years of operation without a single fatal accident. And these are with primarily 1960s-era designs.

Far safer, cleaner, and more efficient designs are on the books, such as pebble-beds and Rubbia's "energy amplifier". Designs that can't possibly explode, designs that can actually burn the nuclear waste from conventional nuke plants, and that generate less radioactive waste than even a coal-based plant (due to the radioactive uranium found naturally within coal).

> "hydrogen for cars/airplanes/dirigibles for transportation energy"

Hydrogen isn't a source of energy. It's an energy-carrier only...the energy has to come from some other source.

RE: land
By chsh1ca on 4/2/2007 10:49:20 AM , Rating: 2
As long as they never have accidents, you're dead on.

I'm not talking about meltdowns either, I'm talking about the incidental stuff that causes environmental damage that seems to never get talked about. My personal experience with it has been living mostly in cities located between two plants -- the Pickering, Ontario plant, and the Darlington (Bowmanville), Ontario plant. Pickering regularly had huge budget overruns and more importantly several coolant leaks.

Chalk it up to the CANDU reactors, or the government running power generation here, but there are health risks associated with them. Granted, they tend to be overblown (people jump to Chernobyl), but there is real non-explosion oriented pollution produced by these things.

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 11:00:17 AM , Rating: 1
> "Pickering regularly had huge budget overruns and more importantly several coolant leaks"

None of which caused the slightest bit of environmental damage. And again, I have to stress that these plants are all primarily 1960s-era technology. Far better designs are available now, but there is little interest in building them, thanks to public hysteria and ignorance.

By the way, nuclear power set a record last year. It generated more electricity than any previous year, at an average cost of 1.66 c/kWh. Solar power tends to weigh in at 20 to 30 times that.

RE: land
By otispunkmeyer on 4/2/2007 11:27:34 AM , Rating: 3
ill agree here

nuclear power is probably the best choice for clean, reliable and substantial amounts of energy

but the ecomentalists get all riled up and thats puts an end to it. (these people are so ilogical at times it beggars belief)

not only that, the money required to design and build them is quite high. i know a government, especially ours in the UK, wont want to spend the money building means they cant have nice office furniture or hire more civil servants.

what really gets me is, the technology is here today to reduce CO2, yet the government who are pushing their CO2 agenda and taxing anything that produces it....are nothing bot all about it.

biofuel is a great example. here is a fuel thats grown in a field (perfect to help our ailing farmers) a fuel thats actually higher in octane than normal petrol, burns cleaner, produces more power and produces 70% less CO2.

so is gordon brown writing cheques, (using the CO2 tax money) to help subsidise the installation of these bio fuel pumps? no. is he offering to reduce road tax, give free parking spaces, exempt you from conjestion charging if you use this fuel? no. is he offering to pay for the conversion of your car to run on bioethanol? no

what he is doing is roughly equal to the square root of sod all and thinkin about how he can implement some kind of breathing tax.

government tells people we must change, become more green. then they tax us to hell and back for using high carbon means, then gives us absolutely zero incentive to do something about it.

there are only 14 bio ethanol pumps in the UK (compared to 600 and growing in sweden)

as it stands now, id have to buy a new car, then move house to be near a place that sells the fuel. or i can carry on as normal and get taxed to the teeth. the former is probably cheaper (for now) and less of a hinderence.

RE: land
By BladeVenom on 4/2/2007 6:43:29 PM , Rating: 2
Uranium isn't unlimited. With more countries going nuclear stockpiles are going down, prices are skyrocketing, and the mines can't keep up.

RE: land
By animedude on 4/3/2007 4:34:57 AM , Rating: 2
Using current nuclear reactor, uranium supply would last anywhere between 80 years - 100 years.
If we extract them from sea water, uranium supply can last up to anywhere between 2 billion to 5 billion years. Its a matter of whether it is economical to further develop the current technology to extract it or not. By fast breeder reactors to breed uranium-238, the uranium supply would last 5 billion years. Only problem associated with the breeder method is the potential of using it as a weapon. So any of these two methods will provide us enough uranium supply to last billions of years. I doubt we will not develop a technology to one of the methods on top in the next 50 years where oil/natural gas price that will skyrocket.

As stated by masher, the pebble bed reactor (PBR) is much more efficient than current generator. It can generate 100 times more energy than current generator. Future PBR technology can also produce hydrogen which can potential creates a hydrogen economy.

If nuclear power is so danger, I wonder why the French is relying on it so much (accounts for 86.9% of its total energy use in 2005).

RE: land
By rtrski on 4/2/2007 7:08:38 PM , Rating: 2
biofuel is a great example. here is a fuel thats grown in a field (perfect to help our ailing farmers) a fuel thats actually higher in octane than normal petrol, burns cleaner, produces more power and produces 70% less CO2.

Biofuels aren't necessarily a great fix either, as compared to nuke plants. Sure, burning something you grew should be effectively carbon-neutral, as the released CO2 is on par with that absorbed during the growing process. But what did you clear up in order to grow it?

There was an article on I think Reuters news today (just found it was an AP story from yesterday, hope I haven't been sucked in by an April Fool's joke <grin> ) about how palm oil plantations have been put in on drained boglands which otherwise would have been much better carbon sinks.

Not to mention that the bigger 'greenhouse gas' issue isn't the C02 in the first place, as masher keeps pointing out.... I can't help but wonder if all the 'carbon-neutral' mantra is just plain missing the point, regardless of whether they're even addressing it intelligently for its own sake...

RE: land
By derdon on 4/2/2007 7:10:23 PM , Rating: 1
Hello, I'm one of those "illogical" environmentalists and yes I do oppose nuclear power.

They're big and concrete landmarks, costly to build up and costly to dismantle. There's the question of where to put the depleted uranium stuff. There's no major uranium source in Europe, everything needs to be imported. Do we want to put money on something that we cannot control? And Sellafield and La Hague are polluting the north sea and all the supporters of nuclear power always speak about the new designs being soooo much better even possibly waste-free and whatnot. Believe what you want, I'm also sure that they're x times as expensive and you're not getting a cost effective solution that way. Neither one that is independent nor future-proof. Now we care about oil-prices, next thing we'll care about uranium prices. What's the price of wind? What's the price of the sun?

I agree that nuclear power would save big on Co2 emission and that's an undeniable fact, but going for them is to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. It opens up lots of new problems, that we could avoid if we'd get cleaner energy sources developed and rolled out. There's a lot of money that's being put into research on nuclear power. It'd be amazing to just have half of this money on renewable energy.

Despite all of this, I think the biggest improvement would be to cut on energy consumption and not increase it. There's been some suggestions in this direction, which is good, but it needs more thinking and finally plans.
This is the most important point of all. I do think that if we're continuing like now, whether we adopt nuclear power or if we go with wind/solar/... we'll eventually hit a wall.

So at the one hand, I think there's rethinking needed in the way to generate power and that's happening right now. On the other hand there's also rethinking needed on why we generate power and how to reduce our power consumptions. That's not happening so much and people are frightened about this since it would mean giving up their lifestyles... well, adopting a different one. I can understand this, but I do think that this question will need to be thought about and openly discussed.

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 8:57:14 PM , Rating: 1
> "They're big and concrete landmarks, costly to build up and costly to dismantle"

And yet, even with those costs, nuclear power is still the cheapest form of energy which possibly a well-run hydro plant in a good location. The industry averaged costs of 1.66 cents/kilowatt-hour last year.

I notice when the issue of solar or wind power (which typically costs 10-50 times what nuclear power does) the environmentalists suddenly stop worrying about costs.

> There's no major uranium source in Europe."

There's plenty of thorium in Europe, however...and plenty of nuclear-plant designs which can use it.

> "There's a lot of money that's being put into research on nuclear power"

Nonsense. All the fission-based research in the world combined doesn't even approach 1% of what we're spending on piffle like wind and biofuels.

> "I think the biggest improvement would be to cut on energy consumption and not increase it"

Which is the REAL reason environmentalist oppose cheap, clean nuclear power. Because it doesn't force people into a conservationalist lifestyle.

RE: land
By Whedonic on 4/2/2007 9:19:17 PM , Rating: 2
Clearly we just need to get fusion working, so we can sidestep the whole issue.

RE: land
By bpurkapi on 4/2/2007 10:08:28 PM , Rating: 2
You state the cost of hydro power as the cheapest, I can tell you that hydro power when well managed definitely is the cheapest. I am from Oregon and we have a gigantic series of hydro plants along the Columbia and Snake rivers, our energy prices are the lowest in the United States. But the price of energy doesn't mask the fact that the Hydro plants have destroyed salmon habitat and they are on the verge of extinction. Hydro power has it's problems as well, all of the technologies have problems. Either they pollute too much(coal), have long term consequences(nuclear), destroy the environment(hydro), ruin biodiversity(ethanol and biofuels) or cost too much(solar). Out of all the choices for power I think that wind power is the greatest compromise. In Oregon we let farmers lease plots of land for these wind mills to be built on, so the farmer gets a check, and the energy consortium gets land, and the consumer gets power for cheap. The biggest obstacle for wind power is the proximity to major power transmission lines. These transmission lines can cost millions of dollars and so every wind farm gets a quick boost in final price. Luckily the gorge where all the dams are has transmission lines and loads of wind, so Oregon and Washington have seen a plethora of wind farms being built and they are providing cheap energy for us consumers. This is a case study of how power generation works best, it is not about one mode of power generation, it is about multiple modes, hydro, solar, wind, the occassional nuclear plant, and biofuel investments.

RE: land
By Hoser McMoose on 4/3/2007 6:12:39 PM , Rating: 2
They're big and concrete landmarks, costly to build up and costly to dismantle

And yet they're still one of the cheapest methods to produce power even though those costs are always factored in. Many other types of power plants do not factor in the costs of dismantling when they've outlived their life and almost none factor in the cost of waste produced the way nuke plants are usually required to.

There's the question of where to put the depleted uranium stuff.

The *depleted* uranium is not the stuff that you have to worry about given that it's depleted. There are some other types of nuclear wastes that shouldn't just be tossed into our airs and streams like we do with most industrial waste, but there are many solutions available. Short and long term storage are very practical and being used. It's also MUCH safer then the waste "disposal" (read: dumping into water or pumping into air) of most of the alternatives.

There's no major uranium source in Europe, everything needs to be imported. Do we want to put money on something that we cannot control?

You mean like you do with oil (mainly from the middle east), natural gas (mainly from Russia and the Caspian sea area), coal (mainly US and China)? How is that different from Uranium which is mainly supplied by Canada and Australia?

And there ARE uranium mines in Europe, they do produce about 10% of the worlds uranium, more then most other energy forms.

What's the price of wind? What's the price of the sun?

Surprisingly high. Uranium prices would probably have to go up by MANY orders of magnitude before solar power would be cost-competitive for most of Europe (currently solar power is about 20-30 times as expensive as nuclear, and fuel cost is a pretty negligible part of nuclear powers cost).

The fact is, solar for bulk power production just isn't remotely practical for most of the world, the costs are just too high. Even this project in Portugal, with some of the best solar conditions in all of Europe, is still SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive than any other projects. It's also only a trivial size (11MW is TINY, most coal, nuke and dam-based hydro generating stations are in the 1000-6000MW range). It only gets worse from there, putting solar panels up in the UK or in Scandinavia is almost totally pointless.

Unfortunately for solar it just doesn't make sense on the large scale, it works much better on small scale, like putting a bunch of panels on the roof of your house. This way one of the major expensive for solar (the cost of the surface area to put them) is already a sunk cost. It's still unlikely to be cost competitive, but at least it comes much closer to it then handling things on the large scale.

RE: land
By nah on 4/2/2007 11:14:05 AM , Rating: 2
hydrogen is an energy carrier thats true--but what i meant was that H2 be produced from solar,wind and other renewable forms of energy for use in cars/other forms of transportation.

Nuclear energy can only run for so long--exactly how long will reserves of enriched uranium last--and how can you see this as a global fuel--with the furore over countries like Iran--do you really expect the West to share nuclear tech with every country--highly unlikely, for political reasons.

One thing inhibiting the use of solar energy is cost--but costs have fallen by a factor of 2 or more since the early eighties--right now you could mass produce electricity with solar panels with 15 % efficiency at a derate of 0.65 at an average of 22 cents per KWh in the sunniest locations--this will fall to 12-13 cents by 2020--by which time the average electricity cost in the US will have gone up to 14-16 cents or more

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 11:48:18 AM , Rating: 1
> "Nuclear energy can only run for so long..."

Several thousand years with current stocks. And if we implement a design like the Rubbiatron (which can utilize thorium, far more common than uranim) several tens of thousands of years. I'd call that an energy solution all right, given that its far longer than all of recorded human history.

RE: land
By nah on 4/2/2007 12:18:29 PM , Rating: 2
exactly where does this figure of several thousand years apply to--does it pertain to current world consumption or to reserves expected to last for so long based on the TOTAL energy consumption of Earth--based on the 5% increases every year you so correctly stated--

Solar cells will keep on increasing in efficiency and decreasing in price--by 2030 they should be twice as efficient--and thus take up half the footprint now--

several thousand years is about as long as recorded history--but it is an infinitesimal amount of time compared to the thousands of years we have left on this planet--what are we to do after that--unless we've managed to destroy ourselves, of course ;)

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 12:31:17 PM , Rating: 1
> "exactly where does this figure of several thousand years apply to..."

Based on current usage and stocks of uranium, excluding future growth...but also excluding future increases in plant efficiency, and assuming no new finds of uranium are ever found (most nations stoppped serious prospecting for uranium decades ago).

And, as I said, by the simple expedient of designs which can utilize thorium, that figure is increased to tens of thousands of years. And if we do run out of fuel sometime 30,000 years from now, we'll just have to start mining the moon, the asteriod belt, or perhaps some tiny fraction of the radionuclides available below the earth's crust.

> "by 2030 [solar cells] should be twice as efficient..."

Sorry, not possible. MJ cells are already 40% efficient; producing a cell that is 80% efficient isn't going to happen in 25 years, and in fact may even be impossible by quantum mechanics. Now, organic cells may double in efficiency...but those are already quite inefficient, so they have plenty of room for growth.

RE: land
By nah on 4/2/2007 12:41:06 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, I meant the average efficiency of solar cells already installed would increase from 15% to 30 %-cells with 40% efficiency are way to expensive to use outside of space related applications--

What about the waste that emanates from nuclear power--how are you planning to recycle that--considering that their half-lives range from 10000+ years

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 12:52:05 PM , Rating: 3
The dangerous waste from any industry other than nuclear power lasts forever. Toxins such as chlorine, lead, mercury, etc...are dangerous forever. They NEVER decay.

Quoting lengthy half-lives is a cheap propaganda scare trick. The very air you breathe has a radioactive half-life of several billion years...its that very long lifespan that makes it safe. The truly dangerous radionuclides from nuclear power have half-lives measures in hours or less. Six months in a cooling pond eliminates the vast majority of it.

For long-lived wastes, disposal is a problem solved long ago. Furthermore, new reactor designs not only generate a tiny fraction of the waste of current reactors, but some (such as the energy amplifier) are actually able to burn that waste, and eliminate it utterly.

RE: land
By Martin Blank on 4/2/2007 1:15:39 PM , Rating: 3
I'm a big proponent of nuclear power and you're on the right path, but your view of radiation is off. Radionuclides that decay entirely over hours are very rare (by definition). More common are those with half-lives of decades or centuries, which can remain dangerous for significant periods of time.

Also important is the actual type of radiation. Beta decay involves emission of electrons or positrons, which cause little damage. Alpha decay emits charged helium nuclei, and can cause damage if it occurs internally. Gamma decay is by far the most dangerous, as it can do serious damage to DNA and proteins within the cells, causing cell death or -- worse in some ways -- cell malfunction, and unlike alpha and beta radiation is not stopped by the skin.

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 2:27:33 PM , Rating: 1
> "Radionuclides that decay entirely over hours are very rare (by definition"

Not within the high-level waste of a nuclear power plant. Fast decaying chain daughter radionuclides constitute the bulk of the radiative flux.

RE: land
By nah on 4/2/2007 1:58:23 PM , Rating: 2
that is correct--- but they are not radioactive--i am looking at nuclear power in a new light, thanks to you--but cannot escape certain conclusions--
1) all it takes is one accident for a nuclear power to contaminate a very large area--where human beings work--no design can be 100 % fool-proof. In the case of solar/wind energy the concept of accident does not exist--unless you count the birds who die while bouncing against the wind generators vanes

2)at least some of your conclusions seem to be derived from technologies that are not yet in use--theories are one thing, reality another. In any situation which relies on human judgement, the word fool-proof or fail-safe have no meaning

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 2:36:11 PM , Rating: 1
> "all it takes is one accident for a nuclear power to contaminate a very large area"

As said earlier, there is no possible way for a design such as a Rubbiatron to explode. A convection-cooled design can't even melt down-- there are no pumps or cooling system to fail.

RE: land
By SoCalBoomer on 4/2/2007 1:20:26 PM , Rating: 3
Countries other than the US are recycling their "waste" - which is often 95% recoverable and reusable and highly reduces the radioactivity of the waste (making it so that "After 40 years its radioactivity drops by 99.9%") - 10,000+ years is not a valid number anymore for properly processed and recycled nuclear fuel - which, unfortunately, we're not doing anymore.

RE: land
By chedrz on 4/2/2007 3:24:35 PM , Rating: 2
I completely agree. Nuclear power is the way to go. I mean, seriously...who doesn't like the prosepect of a nuclear reactor that not only produces electricity, but also provides hydrogen fuel for cars? It's right around the corner, and would eliminate the two largest producers of airborne pollution in the United States.

RE: land
By Zoomer on 4/2/2007 6:32:48 PM , Rating: 2
And possibly heats your homes, too, if it's designed for it.

RE: land
By otispunkmeyer on 4/2/2007 11:11:03 AM , Rating: 3
ill put my money on dubai spending the wonga and making a wierd palm tree shaped island out of solar panels.

this here seems like a lot of land to power only 8000 homes, in the grand scheme of things 8000 homes isnt a lot and your fresh out of luck when you want a cuppa tea or a microwave meal on a night lol!

of course this is probably supplemented with a more reliable power source such as a power station. this solar farm just offsets the load during the day which can only be a good thing.

RE: land
By Samus on 4/2/2007 1:36:22 PM , Rating: 2
The technology will only become more efficient. Solar cells now are 40% more efficient and 30% lighter than last generations (based on sq ft.)

In the next few years, with proper funding, photocells will be 100% more efficient than our current generation, requiring half the space for the same output.

As previously said, world-wide electricity consumption increases roughly 5%/year, which is just a little more than our worldwide population increases. Energy consumption scales with population. Duh.

RE: land
By Ringold on 4/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: land
By Zoomer on 4/2/2007 6:35:06 PM , Rating: 2
China is building 40-50 fission plants to offset that. And perhaps more to come, since they recognize that coal plants are a problem.

RE: land
By Ringold on 4/2/2007 9:47:02 PM , Rating: 1
That'd be an eye popping number of nuclear plants, but then again I thought it was a huge number of coal plants when I first read it too.

If they're going nuclear though you can bet the farm it's not for any touchy-feely penchant for the color green; it's for energy security, plain and simple. Anything that doesn't help advance their national agenda doesn't concern them.

RE: land
By lco45 on 4/4/2007 4:55:32 AM , Rating: 2
Also don't forget that you could use floating platforms for the cells, instead of land.

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/4/2007 8:51:07 AM , Rating: 2
Do you have any idea what a staggering amount that would add to the cost? First you need the platforms themselves, strong enough to withstand ocean waves and storm activity. You have to contend with the highly corrosive salt-water environment. Then, you have to run massive power cables underwater, all the way back to land.

Solar power is already 10-50 times more expensive than nuclear. This would triple or quadruple those already high prices.

RE: land
By feelingshorter on 4/2/2007 9:45:26 AM , Rating: 1
The last time I posted on here saying solar energy used "rare" elements, I got flamed. I believe solar power has become a lot cheaper, and uses less rare elements now, around 40% perhaps. Lets just agree to disagree and say that the elements that do need to be mined are damaging to the environment when they are disposed of. Same problem with hybrid cars and zinc.

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 9:56:34 AM , Rating: 2
> "I believe solar power has become a lot cheaper, and uses less rare elements now..."

Sure-- if you use organic cells. Unfortunately these have efficiencies in the 3-5% range, far less than the 40% you can see with a multijunction/concentrator cell.

RE: land
By TSS on 4/2/2007 10:50:48 AM , Rating: 2
i dont know but isn't there someting wrong with your calculations? i mean how did you get your figures? if i take 11 megawatts (11.000 KW)on 150 acres, and the world production is 16 million GW ( you would actually require 1.454.545.454 of these plants to power the world (16 million GW divided by 11MW roughly rounded up). now that times 150 acres a plant means 218181818181 acre = 882.950.492,156 kmĀ²

or am i missing something here? atleast if you need 150 acres for a 11 megawatt plant you aint going to power the world with a few of these. (the figures are relative but carry the point across.)

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 11:05:56 AM , Rating: 3
> " if i take 11 megawatts (11.000 KW)on 150 acres, and the world production is 16 million GW..."

You're confusing power with energy. The plant produces 11 MW power, but 20 gigawatt-hours energy per year. Power is a rate; energy a fixed quantity.

RE: land
By danrien on 4/2/2007 11:07:54 AM , Rating: 2
your talking in megawatts and applying it to Gigawatt Hours. One is a measurement of how much energy you've used in a certain amount of time (Gigawatt Hours), and the other is a measure of how much power something can output.

RE: land
By Visual on 4/2/2007 9:51:10 AM , Rating: 2
interesting calculations, though i lost you at the "multiply by 3/4" and then suddenly quoting a figure 5 times bigger...

i don't understand your point though. do you think that the required area is small enough for this to be feasible?

for reference, your initial result, 485600 km2, is around 1000 times smaller than the total surface area of the earth. so it seems small enough at first. but factor in that only 30% is land, of which only 13% is arable and just 4.7% supports permanent crops (for comparison's sake, not saying that you need such a land to install your solar panel). this is barely 15 times more than your result. now your 485600 km2 dont seem as insignificant to me...

now how much of the available land is really suitable for solar panels? the panels' efficiency is probably severely affected by cloud cover making them inapplicable to places with bad climate.

and then can you imagine the maintenance required for this kind of "fields"? without supervision their efficiency will quickly diminish simply from dust and dirt, then come the damages that regular wind, rain and snow can cause, let alone a hailstorm, sandstorm or some *real* disaster...

RE: land
By TheDoc9 on 4/2/2007 10:37:19 AM , Rating: 4
What a joke, there are so many hidden costs to this technology it's pathetic. Look at that field of panels, it's the size of a city and your only powering 8000 homes!

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 10:40:15 AM , Rating: 2
> "it's the size of a city and your only powering 8000 homes! "

That assumes it even puts out the estimated 20 GkWh/year the builders estimate. Past solar plants have typically underperformed their initial estimates sharply, due to maintenance and other issues.

RE: land
By TheDoc9 on 4/2/2007 11:50:57 AM , Rating: 5
you know, I was thinking the other day about the groups opposed to building more nuclear plants in the u.s. I was thinking that behind them could also be oil companies. Considering it's in there best interest to keep everyone Dependant. There's really no reason not to switch to nuclear power considering how clean it is and although I'm sure there are some environmental costs it's probably no different than building solar panels or windmills.

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 11:55:38 AM , Rating: 2
> "you know, I was thinking the other day about the groups opposed to building more nuclear plants in the u.s. I was thinking that behind them could also be oil companies"

I won't comment on that, but I will point out that a huge amount of funding for 'environmental' groups pushing ethanol came directly from Archer Daniels Midland...which received a multi-billion dollar windfall from ethanol's implementation.

RE: land
By RyanVM on 4/2/2007 2:05:47 PM , Rating: 1
There's no such thing as an oil company. Exxon, BP, etc are all energy companies. You may think I'm picking nits, but hopefully you'll understand if I use the following logic. "Oil" companies such as Exxon and BP know full well that they're dealing with a finite amount of resources. They're also in the business of making money. Do you really think they're so shortsighted as to completely ignore their future once the wells dry up? It would be completely illogical and make no business sense whatsoever. As long as they're at the center of it, I don't think "oil" companies really care what type of energy people are consuming.

RE: land
By RyanVM on 4/2/2007 2:15:03 PM , Rating: 2
And that said, companies such as BP are actually some of the largest investors in alternative energy research.

RE: land
By rtrski on 4/2/2007 7:17:07 PM , Rating: 2
They also knew that the vast majority of the refining capacity was concentrated in the Gulf before Katrina, etc., and that hurricanes happened. Yet economies of scale and insurance make it cheaper to ignore now what you can fix with federal assistance in the future.

I can easily believe they would act 'shortsighted' if they thought it maximized cash flow in the near-term. After all, the ones making the decisions don't get bonuses based on how well the transition happened 20-30 years after they retired.

I sort of agree with you - they don't care 'how' they produce the energy, so long as the profits come in. But that cuts both ways and means they don't care if they're burning at a non-sustainable level now provided that's what makes the books look best under their tenure.

RE: land
By peldor on 4/2/2007 12:23:06 PM , Rating: 2
The size of city? It's 150 acres. That's next to nothing. Less than 1/4 of a square mile.

RE: land
By Rugar on 4/2/2007 10:35:52 AM , Rating: 2
Land use is the major constraint to the use of solar power. While panel and other infrastructure costs will go down as solar technology matures, the percentage of land used will only increase. In addition, while solar power may be useful in Portugal, it is much less so in Norway or Michigan.

Solar represents a good step towards low-emission energy but I think that wave energy is a more promising direction. Look here ( for some of the different types of wave generators either in production or under investigation.

RE: land
By Rugar on 4/2/2007 10:38:23 AM , Rating: 2
Darn it. That last ) got caught in the link and I can't edit. Here's the working link.

RE: land
By Hoser McMoose on 4/2/2007 5:20:50 PM , Rating: 2
Two big problems with your theories:

1. Solar panels only generate power for a certain portion of the day, and wind power is at best can only produce a stable flow of power (at worst it produces power unpredictably). Human power use, on the other hand, varies greatly throughout the day. For North America during our peak power use period (hot days in the summer) we use almost twice as much power at our peak in the late afternoon vs. the minimum just before dawn. In particular, our power usage really spikes up a LOT at about 9:00am. Given that there is currently no reliable method of storing power on the large scale, this is a big problem.

2. Power transmission is a non-trivial thing. Generating power in a desert sounds nice, but it isn't going to help someone living 5,000km from the nearest desert. It would be both extraordinarily expensive and highly inefficient to try to transport the electricity via power lines over such a great distance. Unfortunately solar is very location-dependent, and it doesn't match up with our use very well. Take the UK as a good example, fairly dense population, high per capita electricity use and only about 5 sunny days in the entire year!

Basically your numbers only solve one (the easiest) of the three big problems with electricity production. People like simply looking at megawatts and gigawatt hours and thinking that's all there is too it. The other two problems are to produce power close to where it's needed so it doesn't need to be transported as far, and being able to dynamically adjust power production to meet demand. These two problems are both much harder to solve then simply looking at pure megawatts.

RE: land
By Peter11 on 4/4/2007 10:33:04 AM , Rating: 2
Australia has the biggest solar plant. This plant alone produces 154 megawatt and costs half a billion dollars.

RE: land
By masher2 (blog) on 4/4/2007 10:47:20 AM , Rating: 2
The Australian plant isn't online yet, and doesn't reach full capacity until 2013.

Problem with renewable energies.
By TimberJon on 4/2/2007 11:46:00 AM , Rating: 2
Water power! Awesome! But maintenance costs are high and the grid suffers from any downtime.

Wind power! buy a tower, rent out its energy, power your home, carpet a windy area with em. Too costly, parts break down, they die, and each blade can barely sit on a gooseneck all by itself, super heavy.

Ahh solar power! Go portugal! Hope you have AWESOME net pricing on those panels baby. Like the guy said above, very expensive and uses rare materials. Easy to chip, crack, damage, winds microabrade them with particulates until they lose more and more efficiency. You almost have to have on-sire manufacturing or at least a complete repair unit. Daily duties consist of replacing and fixing. Few years later, those costs will rise. Inevitable maintenance.

Ah but Fusion power. Has the potential to generate more power than nuclear. No explosions, no nuclear waste products. Im not sure how much a nuclear facility costs to build, but I would guess a fusion plant would cost more.. So only worth it if it can power itself to keep the field stable, AND generate a large surplus. Z-pinch? or upscale. *Shrug* upto the pros. But smaller land mass needed and more power output, as well as safer than nuclear.

Research better Solar tech, and fusion. I'd stay away from wind power unless maglev-type bearings and moving parts can be perfected. That will lead to less breakdown and friction, and more power generated more often with less wind needed to start the blades. Also wouldnt need a motor to turn the stupid blades.

By TimberJon on 4/2/2007 12:03:00 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Problem with renewable energies.
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 12:08:23 PM , Rating: 3
> "Fusion power. Has the potential to generate more power than nuclear. No explosions, no nuclear waste products"

Fusion generates radioactive waste...anything that generates a neutron flux is going to create radioactive nuclides. Fusion, does, however, generate a far smaller amount of them than current nuclear reactors.

However, we have fission-based designs on the books that are as radiologically clean as fusion power, designs that cannot explode as well. The amount of public interest in them, though, seems to be essentially zero.

RE: Problem with renewable energies.
By Spivonious on 4/2/2007 12:47:49 PM , Rating: 2
I know next to nothing about this, but hear me out.

Couldn't the fusion plant take the waste of the fission plant, and the fission plant take the waste of the fusion plant? Just thinking out loud.

RE: Problem with renewable energies.
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 12:57:04 PM , Rating: 2
I know what you're trying to say, but there's a bottom to the mass-energy binding curve, and that's iron. You can fission elements above iron and fusion them below it...but once you hit iron, you're out of energy.

That's in theory. In practice, fusing any element above helium, or fissioning any much below polonium is extraordinary difficult.

By Spivonious on 4/2/2007 4:37:15 PM , Rating: 2
So if we ever perfect helium fission, we essentially have perpetual motion? Any heat lost during the process is what boils the water to turn the let's go scientists. Split those protons! :)

By animedude on 4/3/2007 4:40:27 AM , Rating: 2
Actually the French is going along nicely with nuclear power. China is building a lot of Pebble Bed Reactors in the next 20 years and trying to develop a way to extract hydrogen.

RE: Problem with renewable energies.
By thegrimace on 4/2/2007 1:10:43 PM , Rating: 2
For those of you that are still afraid of CO2 emissions.

In water based power production, dams produce just as much CO2 as coal based power plants do. Its all that additional surface area covered with nearly stagnant water. This situation causes alge or the fresh water equivalent to form and other CO2 releases to form as well.

RE: Problem with renewable energies.
By bulls3y3 on 4/2/2007 2:56:00 PM , Rating: 1
Check your facts there buddy... plants and algae CONSUME CO2 during photosynthesis, they don't produce it.

By your logic then, we'd have one hell of a carbon sink at work everywhere we build a dam.

By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 3:09:17 PM , Rating: 2
No, he's right...though methane emissions are probably more significant than CO2 in this scenario.

While living algae do indeed consume CO2, they grow quickly, then die...and when that large amount of biomass rots trapped in a reservoir, it releases a great deal of both CO2 and methane.

By oTAL on 4/2/2007 1:16:42 PM , Rating: 2
It could be a lot more...
A few years ago our government (I'm Portuguese) created legislation to end the Portuguese electricity imports. In a country with plentiful rivers, wind, a large coastal area (tides energy is pretty much untamed and it's a quite formidable source) and lots of sunshine it made no sense to keep importing energy (we are a non nuclear nation by political choice - NIMBA rules this country in ways you can't possibly imagine).
One of the most attractive laws was the possibility to ask for a "consumer/small producer" license and be able to dump all your excess power into the network, which would buy your power at 5 times consumer price. Everyone would win except the large energy producers which, due to the state monopoly existing until recently, is *kinda* the same company that runs the network.
So... bottom line... lots of private investors thought that an investment with 10 year turn-around, very safe, economically positive to the country and environmentally friendly, requiring only some land area and capital, was damn worth it.
MANY people requested the license... and they are still waiting for EDP (the company) to install their special counters... and they'll keep waiting...

Same as we have a wait time of 2 week for an ADSL installation by the now private, formerly state owned telecom monopoly and we have a 2 month wait time for any other ADSL solution. The grid belongs to the main company (they are *kinda* two separate companies now...) and, although they are mandated by law to provide the new carriers with their service, they use their position to force a worse service for the consumer... it works...

That's our politics... lots of good intentions... hardly anything ever gets done... here's hoping for a brighter future...

By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 2:34:11 PM , Rating: 2
> "Everyone would win except the large energy producers..."

There's no such thing as a free lunch. If you force the network to buy your excess power at five times the going rate, it increases their operating costs, which are then passed down to other consumers as a 'hidden tax'.

And lets not forget that small-scale power generation is, by its very nature, less efficient than large dedicated plants. Millions of small windmills aren't as environmentally friendly as one large nuclear or even coal plant, not when you count the energy and resources required to build and maintain them.

By Ringold on 4/2/2007 5:26:32 PM , Rating: 1
6.5% current unemployment, weak overall economy, that much I knew. Then I see you mentioned about a billion different government-controlled monopolies, and it makes sense.

You guys need to find yourselves a Sarkozy (or a Ronald Reagan), and elect him. Quickly. ;) Might've technically privatized your government utility monopoly but that won't help at all if they didn't put it honest (and painful) measures in place to encourage competition. Though, if your government is of the typical self-serving variety, that may be their plan; a failed private energy industry which continues to milk poor consumers that the government can take back control of later, cut electricity rates (and hike taxes), and then look like the heros battling evil capitalists. Wouldn't be a first.

Your story sounds much like Canada, though. Good intentions, communist-like government central planning and control trying to make life better or easier, it all shelters you (the citizens) from having to make choices but, as you can see, doesn't fix any serious problems.

Good luck with your government, but hey, at least you're not in Spain; 8.6% unemployment there to your East, or 11.8% in Belgium to your north-ish.

By oTAL on 4/4/2007 5:55:18 AM , Rating: 2
"at least you're not in Spain; 8.6% unemployment there to your East, or 11.8% in Belgium to your north-ish."

I WISH!!! Both Spain and Belgium are way better countries to live in, independently of your statistics.
Dude... you read too much into my post. You are right on much of what you said but come on... I do not favor Reagan's politics and I, unlike masher2, do not believe that a free market solves everything. The solution lies in the middle and, although in Portugal we are way too much to the left and too many social benefits are given to parasitic people, I was still able to study on the public school system all my life (high quality public education! now that's a weird socialist concept!!) and I know that if I need a transplant I won't financially ruin my family for years (I have a good chance of dying while waiting so it's far from perfect).

How are the public schools in urban America these days? Lots of knifes being taken from students so that they don't stab their teachers? Enjoying the metal detectors on the way in?

I don't especially like my country, and right now (as an educated adult - engineer) I would be better off in the US. But ask me whether I would prefer being born in the US or in "socialist" Europe and I don't have the faintest of doubts that my chances would be better in the old continent.
In the US, if your not born into a privileged family you'll have a really hard time to make something out of your life. You'll require plenty of both labor and luck to get out of the shit-holes of America.

Anyone disagrees here?

By masher2 (blog) on 4/4/2007 9:00:20 AM , Rating: 2
> "In the US, if your not born into a privileged family you'll have a really hard time to make something out of your life"

Is this some joke? Two of America's last four presidents (Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton) were born into penniless families. Over half of America's richest men were also born in similar straights...Sam Walton (founder of Walmart) for instance, born a dirt farmer during the Great Depression, who went on to build a fortune much larger than Bill Gates (his five heirs were each one of the ten richest people in the world for 15 years after his death).

Or another couple examples-- Hector Ruiz (CEO of AMD) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Governor of California). Both of which were not only born poor, but born outside the US, and emigrated here when young. In fact, many of America's richest citizens are immigrants, who arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Your statement couldn't be further from the truth. The US has its problems...but there isn't a single nation in the world with more class mobility and opportunity for advancement.

By iNGEN on 4/5/2007 3:34:20 PM , Rating: 2
I, a re-immigrant, and Alexis de Tocqueville do:

"It is not that in the United States, as everywhere, there are no rich; indeed I know no other country where love of money has such a grip on men's hearts or where stronger scorn is expressed for the theory of permanent equality of property. But wealth circulates there with incredible rapidity, and experience shows that two successive generations seldom enjoy its favor...In America most rich men began by being poor."

By oTAL on 4/9/2007 3:37:04 PM , Rating: 2
That's a pretty good quote... I do question how old it is... The American dream was a true thing until the most recent decades... Right now what you said is incorrect. In 21st century America you are either born rich or you'll require plenty of good luck to be someone (hard work will help you build that luck, but if you were born poor you can pretty much work your ass off for 40 years and go nowhere without good luck).

Quoting someone not for his status but just for fun factor:
"Bill Maher has something to say about making it in the United States. Move to Europe! If you're born poor here you're pretty much fucked."

I'm guessing that.....
By marvdmartian on 4/2/2007 9:22:41 AM , Rating: 2
can supply enough electricity for 8,000 households.

....means Portuguese households? Where it's highly likely that they don't have 4 tv sets, 2 gaming systems, 3 computers, central a/c and a bunch of other energy wasting appliances, like we do here in America?? ;)

I'm not that bad, and live by myself, and in the summer I've used 150+ kilowatt hours per month, mostly running the central a/c refrigerator, microwave & computers. At that rate, this plant would only run ~75 households! Or is my math totally off???

RE: I'm guessing that.....
By peldor on 4/2/2007 9:38:22 AM , Rating: 2
Your math's off.

1GW-hr is 1,000,000 KW-hr

If the plant produces 20GW-hr per year , that's 200+ KW-hr per month for 8000 families.

RE: I'm guessing that.....
By Spivonious on 4/2/2007 9:44:45 AM , Rating: 2
kilowatt-hours is different than megawatts. So, yes. Your math is off :)

RE: I'm guessing that.....
By Vixis on 4/2/2007 9:46:08 AM , Rating: 2
"Thanks to great Portuguese sunshine and high technology, this plant right here in Serpa is expected to produce the most power -- more than 20 gigawatt-hours per year."

So it is 20 gigawatt-hours per year /12 = 1,666,666 kilowatt-hours per month.
This plant would only run ~11,111 yours households, not so bad.

RE: I'm guessing that.....
By Hoser McMoose on 4/3/2007 5:20:06 PM , Rating: 2
Only thing is, 150kWh per month is VERY low by North American standards at least.

Average use in North America is somewhere in the 750-1000kWh/month range, or 9-12MWh per year. This plant produces 20,000MWh per year, so it's enough for 1,667 to 2,222 North American households.

I'm not quite sure how this compares to the average Portuguese household, though I would imagine that their average power use would be noticeably lower (the US is not far behind Canada, Iceland and Norway for highest average electricity consumption of any countries in the world).

The only number for Portugal I could come up with from a quick Google search is 2.4MWh/year average, but that was dated from 1994. It would match up reasonably well to the '8000 Homes' comment, but that assumes power consumption in Portugal hasn't changed much in 13 years, which I suspect is an inaccurate assumption. Portugal's economy has done pretty well over the past decade and a half, so it's likely that their power consumption has gone up a reasonable amount to go along with that.

Uranium not the sollution
By mahax on 4/2/2007 11:15:23 AM , Rating: 2
Uranium is not renevable, it might last for a while but it'll run out some time, just like oil and gas.

Besides, it's not like the scientist are expected to tackle this problem on their own, while we keep on consuming mindlesly. We can help by adapting energy saving tech. and thinking smart. True, it's industry that uses the most energy but the same still applies. Instead of welding you could use rivets, bolts, glue etc. For example.

The upcoming energy crisis is our problem, including you and me, everyone. Everybody has to participate, we can't just wait for science and tech alone to pull us out of this swamp...

RE: Uranium not the sollution
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 11:52:14 AM , Rating: 2
> "Uranium is not renevable, it might last for a while but it'll run out some time, just like oil and gas"

In the final analysis, nothing lasts forever. Solar, wind, biofuels all get their power from the sun, geothermal from nuclear decay in the earth's core, etc.

For any practical analysis, however, nuclear power is infinite. It'll last considerably longer than all of recorded human history, and that ignores the potential for extracting radionuclides from elsewhere in the solar system.

RE: Uranium not the sollution
By theapparition on 4/3/2007 8:13:30 AM , Rating: 2
You do know the sun will also run out. Every source of energy on this planet will. Current technology nuclear reactors can give us cheap energy for several thousands of years, with far less enviromental impact than any other method. Considering that the discovery of electricity was only about 200 years ago, I'd say that gives us plenty of time to find alternative sources.

True, it's industry that uses the most energy but the same still applies. Instead of welding you could use rivets, bolts, glue etc.

I'd hazard a guess that more energy is used by Americans commuting to work, than by all of industry in America. Certainly household use of energy is far larger than industries.

In your example, welding is inefficient, yet using electricity to power machines to make rivets/bolts, or power systems that develop chemicals for adhesives would be any less efficient? Add storage,packaging and transportation costs associated with those bolts/rivets/glue, and you'll find that welding may not be as energy inefficient as you think.

RE: Uranium not the sollution
By masher2 (blog) on 4/3/2007 8:38:24 AM , Rating: 2
> "Certainly household use of energy is far larger than industries."

While your other points are correct, the industrial sector is the largest consumer of energy in the US-- 33% in total.

All of transportation combined is only 28%, and residential usage weighs in at a paltry 20%.

By theapparition on 4/3/2007 11:22:42 AM , Rating: 2
I stand corrected. I was thinking commercial, rather than industrial

11 MW?
By amsalp on 4/2/2007 11:03:32 AM , Rating: 3
20,000MW-hrs per year / (11MW*365days/yr * 24hr/day )=21%!!!

The plant only has 21% duty factor?
the AVERAGE output of the plant is only 2.3MW

11MW/8000=1375W/home. Look at your hairdrier wattage.

2.3MW/8000=288Watts/home. What are those homes doing at night? Do they turn off their refrigerators at night?

It is TOTALLY false to use PEAK power to calculate homes powered when your duty factor is only 21%.

BTW, at 2.3MW average, the install cost is $70M/2.3MW or $30/watt.

Compare that with other power, usually $5/watt is considered expensive.

RE: 11 MW?
By amsalp on 4/2/2007 11:11:35 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry to self-reply.
At $30/Watt installed,
the plant would need to run for 35 years to break even just on the installation cost at the expensive $0.10/kW-hr wholesale electricity rate.

Not including financing costs, which would probably extend it to never breaking even.

RE: 11 MW?
By oTAL on 4/2/2007 1:22:10 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah... but the article says "20 gigawatt-hours per year"
Just a minor difference... ;)

RE: 11 MW?
By oTAL on 4/2/2007 1:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
ups... you said 20 000 MW which is the same... my bad... ;)

By jaybuffet on 4/2/2007 11:42:15 AM , Rating: 2
Does using solar panels absorb energy that was destined for earth? If we have too many solar panels, won't that cool the earth (oh wait, the solution to global warming, capture all those rays that are bounced back from the co2 in our atmosphere)? Or is the earth primarily heated from the inside? Or are we talking about such a miniscule amount of land area that it doesn't even matter?

RE: ...
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 11:57:47 AM , Rating: 3
> "Does using solar panels absorb energy that was destined for earth?..."

First Law of Thermodynamics. The solar panels do indeed capture energy...but our use of that energy converts it back into heat, so no net cooling effect is experienced.

In fact, one would expect a slight warming effect from the use of solar panels, as they typically have a much lower albedo than normal land surface.

RE: ...
By codeThug on 4/2/2007 9:10:39 PM , Rating: 2
Hey mash-

Is there an alternate spelling for "Rubbiatron". Doesn't seem to be too much out there in English. Or maybe if you would be so generous to post a link or two.

BTW- Thanks for the education...

RE: ...
By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 10:07:31 PM , Rating: 2
My pleasure. Look it up under "energy amplifier" and you'll get a lot more hits. Its essentially a nuclear reaction that, instead of being sustained by a chain reaction from within the pile itself, is fed by an external particle beam (usually a proton synchrotron). There's no possibility of explosion since the pile itself is noncritical...and since the beam is external to the system, you can feed it a much larger variety of radionuclides.

Solar Use
By copiedright on 4/2/2007 7:43:21 AM , Rating: 3
Everyone always criticizes solar power for not being reliable enough. And its true, it isn't reliable enough for current needs.

But utilizing solar power to compliment the power grid for daytime industry is a real step forward. I support this!

RE: Solar Use
By TheTerl on 4/2/2007 10:26:55 AM , Rating: 2
I absolutely agree. I think solar energy is a good thing, but realistically speaking, it's not going to completely solve our electricity (and overall energy) needs by itself--at least not any time in the near future. What I think can happen, though, is that between solar electricity, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, biofuels, and I'm sure some other major ones I'm missing, we will be able to get the energy we need. That's why I like to hear announcements like these, not because the problem will suddenly be solved by some advancement in technology, but because we can have hundreds or thousands of small solutions all tackling the larger issue.

RE: Solar Use
By Doormat on 4/2/2007 10:27:56 AM , Rating: 2
One of the things solar helps with is peak demand as you mentioned, and especially in the summer in areas where solar is the most productive (deserts) there is a huge peak demand from A/C units. If everyone had solar panels on their roof, the lack of peak demand would mean a huge reduction in natural gas prices because natural gas is the primary energy source for peak demand power - its easy to turn a natural gas fired plant on and off as you need more or less power, something very difficult to do with nuclear and coal.

A quick question regarding safety of the panels
By boobot on 4/2/2007 11:19:12 AM , Rating: 2
It seems many of you know a lot about the Solar Panel industry. I took one look at the photo and the first thing that popped in my mind was how do they keep the panels from taking on damage from such things as hail, various debris from weather storms or other potential physical threats?

By masher2 (blog) on 4/2/2007 12:59:16 PM , Rating: 2
Damage protection (along with cleaning and maintenance) is indeed one of the more serious problems with solar power. In fact, due to the risk of falls from serving massive panel installations, most risk analysts have rated existing solar plants at a higher fatality risk than any other form of electric generation.

Recoup the cost?
By Mitch101 on 4/2/2007 3:29:38 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone have an idea how long it will take them to recoup the cost of such a project? Including the cost of the land?

RE: Recoup the cost?
By iNGEN on 4/5/2007 4:32:15 PM , Rating: 2
Remember this project is not about energy production. It is about energy independence. Since Portugal is using government intervention to eliminate foreign sources of energy(including fuels) the good news is it likely will reach break even.

If Portugal was not using trade policy to create energy independence it is highly unlikely this project could ever recoup its costs during its service life.

20 Jiggawatts?
By Spartan Niner on 4/2/2007 3:23:39 PM , Rating: 2
20 Jiggawatts? Excuse me while I go plug in my DeLorean.

All jokes aside, this power plant is a good step forward in the implementation of so-called "green" energy technologies. What I would like to see more of in the future are the newer nuclear fission reactor designs being considered - considering that even 1960's era reactors are very safe, I can only imagine how many improvements have been made in nuclear power in the subsequent decades. The newer breeder reactors, thorium reactors, etc. have the potential to reduce our dangerous dependency on volatile (pun intended) fossil fuels.

By dever on 4/2/2007 2:16:45 PM , Rating: 1
government policies are supportive
Well OK, thanks to Jose, who is redistributing the wealth of the Portugal populace to poor GE. Why? To reduce CO2 emissions! Of which human activity only produces 5% or less compared with natural causes.

Utter Waste of Time and Bandwidth
By qdemn7 on 4/2/07, Rating: -1
RE: Utter Waste of Time and Bandwidth
By rmaharaj on 4/2/2007 7:45:47 AM , Rating: 5
Who pissed in your Cheerios?

By TimberJon on 4/2/2007 11:32:40 AM , Rating: 1
Store brand cheerios too..

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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